You want to learn French, but you lack the time?
If you began 3 months ago, imagine how much you would learn French in only 5 minutes daily.
While this might seem like a short amount of time to accomplish anything, when it comes to learning a language, repetition is the key.
The good news is that learning French can be accomplished in five minutes a day, with the right methods.
Stay tuned to see how.
The Forgetting Curve
In his research, Hermann Ebbinghaus investigated why we forget things and what can be done to prevent it. He visually presented how information fades over time and called the infographic Forgetting Curve.
In his experiment, he attempted to recall a list of nonsense syllables after different periods of time, and found that memory has several characteristics:
- Memory weakens over time.
If we don’t make an effort to repeat the information, we remember less and less of it, within weeks, days, and even hours.
- The time we forget the most is soon after learning.
Ebbinghaus described this at the start of the Forgetting Curve. We lose the ability to retain information without reviewing the information.
As an example, you may leave a webinar or meeting with your head stuffed with new facts and figures, only to find that you could not recall very much of what you learned just hours later.
- Things with meaning are easier to remember
Things that are meaningless (like the nonsense syllables Ebbinghaus tried to learn) conform most closely to the Forgetting Curve.
So, for example, if you listen to a talk on a subject you are not really interested in or do not fully understand, you are likely to forget it quicker than if it were on a subject you were really interested or passionate about.
- The way something is presented affects learning
It is possible to make the same information more or less memorable, depending on how well it is communicated. A logically organized and clearly presented idea is more likely to stick in your mind.
- How you feel impacts how well you remember
Psychological factors such as sleep and stress play an important role in the ability to retain information.
Stress makes it more difficult to remember, which causes even more stress, and weakens your memory. Almost like a vicious circle. Research also indicates that sleep is vital to brain memory.
Spaced Repetition Method
It’s not an unknown fact that our brain learns through repetition. The chances of you remembering something you see or hear only once are slim.
A number of studies have shown that repeating content with breaks is an effective way to build retention. Those who study in short sessions, with short breaks in between, perform better than those who study in one long “massed learning” session.
For many types of learning, spaced training, which involves repeated long inter-trial intervals, leads to more robust memory formation than does massed training, which involves short or no intervals.
( Smolen P, Zhang Y, Byrne JH. The right time to learn: mechanisms and optimization of spaced learning. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2016;17(2):77-88. doi:10.1038/nrn.2015.18)
Whenever new information is learned, repetitions should be closer together; when memories become stronger, repetitions can be separated farther apart.
Let’s say you have a French class once a week with your tutor. If you don’t do much between now and next week, a large part of what you learned will be forgotten. In other words, you are doomed to learn the same things week after week, hardly progressing.
There are many language learning platforms that enable “microlearning”. The content is delivered automatically in the so-called drip delivery model. This encourages learners to learn for a few minutes every day or several times a week.
Why learn French 5 min a day?
In the language learning field, repetition is a habit that is not negotiable. When you are exposed every day to French, you get used to it, begin understanding the new vocabulary, and recognize some sentence patterns.
Learning French 5 minutes a day, and using the spaced repetition system is a smart way to enhance your French learning, even if you don’t have enough time.
5 minutes is the bare minimum of your time and efforts, so it may seem negligible. However, doing it consistently will have more impact than 4 hours of intense learning, once a month.
The reason is that you keep your brain frequently awake for the French language.
We explained previously that microlearning is effective if the content is repeated in regular patterns.
To make the most advantage of learning French, 5 minutes a day, you should make sure that your learning is somewhat logically connected. It means that each new content you go through one day should be repeated at least a couple of times during the next weeks.
Frequently, instead of consuming the new content, try getting back to the old content you once learned.
How to learn French in 5 minutes a day?
So, here’s how you learn French in just 5 minutes a day.
Whenever you have a chance, you can have your little language routine. When you’re standing in line at the cash register, stuck in traffic, or waiting for a meeting to begin.
Here are some tips to learn French in 5 minutes daily, and things you can do in 5 minutes.
- Make your own dictionary and write down new words that you’ll repeat in a spaced repetition system.
- Listen to 5 minutes French videos.
- Use Flashcards, or an app (Anki )
- Make a couple of French sentences
- Make a few sentences each day in a different tense
- Read a paragraph in the French newspapers
- Record short audio of you speaking French
Are you for the 5-Minutes a Day French Challenge?
If you like challenges but don’t have enough time to learn French, 5-minutes a day makes no excuses.
The only challenge here is consistency, not time.
Be aware that you can achieve results, if you dedicate a couple of minutes for a longer timeframe, say for 3 months.
Learning French even for 5 minutes a day, combined with a spaced repetition system, will result in a greater understanding of the language.